Dr. Cannioto said, “Our research shows that some physical activity is much better, in terms of cancer survival, than no activity at all and is just as beneficial as longer workouts. “
The questionnaire was administered when patients enrolled, while undergoing chemotherapy, one year after their treatment and again two years later.
It found that those who exercise not only live longer but are more likely to stay cancer-free after treatment, said Dr. Cannioto.
Additionally, the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests that a modest amount is needed.
Research has long shown a positive link between exercise and cancer survival. People who exercise more – before or after cancer treatment – seem to live longer.
But it was the first to show that high-risk patients who exercised were less likely to see their breast cancer come back after treatment.
Another new twist is the timescale. Patients were not only asked about their exercise before and after cancer treatment, but also during chemotherapy.
Two and a half hours of moderate exercise a week, before and after treatment, were 68 and 55% less likely, respectively, to die or see their cancer return.
Those who started exercising only after treatment also saw great benefits – a 46 and 43 percent reduction in recurrence and death rates, respectively.
A few hours of regular, weekly exercise gave the same survival benefits as longer periods, said Dr. Cannioto.
She added: “What these results suggest to doctors – and patients – is that even a modest exercise routine, followed after cancer treatment, can help women with high breast cancer risk living longer and healthier.
“It’s never too late to start walking, yoga, biking or swimming – and this activity certainly seems to be paying off. “
Public health experts in the United States and the United Kingdom recommend at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, each week.
This averages about 30 minutes on most days of the week. Or you should get an hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise, like jogging, every week.
Over 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK. It kills around 11,400 people each year.